• Remarkable Rahystrada Ready for Million after Win
• Ausus Makes Good on Peitz Promise in Modesty
• Infinite Magic Could Join Stablemate in Secretariat
• Dark Cove a Bright Spot for Ramsey Invasion


At age nine, Robert E. Courtney, Jr.’s Rahystrada seems to be ripening with age for his connections, as evidenced by his impressive victory Saturday in the Grade III $200,000 Arlington Handicap – the centerpiece of Million Preview Day at Arlington International Racecourse.

After winning by a hard-fought half-length – his third win as many tries in the race – the Byron “Scooter” Hughes-trained gelding was no worse for the wear Sunday morning. “He came out of the race very well. He’s all bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning,” the conditioner reported. “We’ll take a look (at the Arlington Million) and see how he’s doing the next few days, but we sure do like it (at Arlington). He won pretty impressively yesterday. Rosie (Napravnik) did a heck of a job riding him. I think he like ‘girl riders’ best (Inez Karlsson rode him to victory in 2010).”

In three previous Arlington Million attempts, Rahystrada has finished fifth (2011), fourth (2010) and a dead-heat third (2012). “We’d like to skip a spot and go right to first,” laughed Hughes.

While the connections of runner-up Temeraine were not reached, race favorite and third-place Dullahan will stay on his scheduled path of using the Arlington Handicap as a stepping stone to the Grade I Pacific Classic on Polytrack (a surface upon which he has won three Grade I races).

Shadwell Stable’s fourth-place finisher Najjaar exited his two-length loss in healthy order, even if the connections would have preferred a win. “With Najjaar, I am a little disappointed. I just don’t think the race set up for him and I think he needs more pace. He was just kind of one-paced. The jockey (Leandro Goncalves) realized about halfway through that the pace wasn’t too fast and at that point couldn’t do much. He also thought the ground was a little softer at Churchill last time, and he liked that a little more. So, perhaps it was a little firmer than he really likes,” explained conditioner Danny Peitz. “We’ll think about both the Million and St. Leger. We’ll have to make some decisions with him.”


Back on May 22, trainer Danny Peitz spoke the praises of an underachieving filly in his barn who simply needed more time, turf and real estate to show what she could do. On Saturday, the conditioner substantiated that claim with a 16-hand chestnut exclamation point named Ausus (pronounced awe-ZEUS) in the Grade III $200,000 Modesty Handicap. Pulling away to win by 2¼ lengths at odds of 8-1, the Shadwell Stable-owned daughter of Horse of the Year Invasor displayed a superb acceleration in the final local prep for the Grade I $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes on Aug. 17.

The fact that Ausus ran well did not surprise the conditioner, but the manner in which she did such was eye-opening. “She’s been a grinder before. But, yesterday she showed a big turn of foot. James (Graham) knew she was in the right spot and she kicked on. She’s run so hard and been so competitive before – it’s nice to win a race with her. I think she will actually like even more distance. Her best might be a mile and a quarter or even a mile and three-eighths.”

As far as the future, the filly will be aimed toward the next obvious step. “Hopefully we have a good month here for the Beverly D. I think we’re in pretty good shape this morning – she looks good. She will have to take another step forward,” Peitz reported.

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s runner-up Artemus Kitten outran her 9.10-1 odds to finish a valiant second after prompting a solid pace. Conditioner Mike Maker was very pleased with the performance. “She ran a lot better than we expected. She has a good chance of moving forward to the Beverly D.,” the trainer confirmed.

Local favorite and 2-1 post time choice La Tia came out of the race in good order, according to trainer Armando De La Cerda. “She looks okay so far,” the conditioner said of the Hernandez Racing Club-owned charge. After setting the pace under Constantino Roman, the mare fought hard with Artemus Kitten until both were inhaled by Ausus.

“I feel like she ran okay. Maybe it was a little too far with having that kind of pressure. She tried and came back. I think the distance was definitely tough on her. Plus, the speed didn’t hold very well yesterday on the turf,” De La Cerda reported. The Illinois-bred could still possibly be under consideration for the Beverly D.


Team Valor’s Infinite Magic, who sharply won the Grade III $200,000 American Derby on Saturday, could join his Europe-based stablemate First Cornerstone in the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes on Arlington Million Day. The son of More Than Ready earned a fees-paid entry into the Secretariat after winning by a head over Admiral Kitten and Stormy Len for trainer Rick Mettee.

“Infinite Magic, yesterday’s upset winner of the American Derby, vans back to Fair Hill today. Next race TBD. Maybe (Secretariat Stakes). We also have First Cornerstone pointing there,” reported Team Valor’s Bradley Weisbord via Twitter. The well regarded First Cornerstone, trained by Andy Oliver, has been pointed to the Secretariat since running a respectable fifth in the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Admiral’s Kitten once again displayed his affinity for playing the bridesmaid with a fourth-straight runner-up finish for trainer Mike Maker. “He came out fine. Hopefully he’ll break through the goal line next out in the Secretariat. We are aiming toward that right now,” the conditioner confirmed.

Finishing a solid third was Leonard Leveen and Michael P. Shanley’s 9.70-1 Stormy Len. Trainer David Donk, who previously won both the Secretariat and Arlington Million, has indicated to Arlington officials that the colt is likely to be back for the Secretariat.


Dark Cove, one of seven competitors from the stable of Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey at Arlington on Saturday, proved to be the shortest priced and their only winner on the card when taking down the Grade III $150,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes – the last local prep for the $400,000 American St. Leger.

In a smart ride by Rosie Napravnik (her first ever at Arlington) the son of Medaglia d’Oro tracked defending race champion Ioya Bigtime, put that foe away and then held off the charging local duo of Team Block’s Suntracer and Midwest Thoroughbreds’ The Pizza Man. Trained by Mike Maker, the muscular dark bay “came out perfect. There are a lot of options from here, but most likely we’ll make an appearance. I don’t see why he wouldn’t go the distance (of the St. Leger),” reported the conditioner. The horse’s eventual goal is the Breeders’ Cup Marathon in November.

Suntracer, after making a sharp move at the quarter pole under new jockey Julien Leparoux, finished well to fall short by two lengths in second. He and eventual fourth-place stablemate Ioya Bigtime are “both in good shape and a little tired, but all else looks fine,” according to trainer Chris Block. “It’s possible (they will run in the St. Leger), but I’m not committed to it. We’ll decide in a couple weeks. Right now we have no plans.”

Block also mentioned that Team Block’s I O Ireland, who ran a bang-up fourth against older fillies in a second-level allowance – losing by just over a length – in the fifth race is on target for the $75,000 Hatoof for sophomore fillies on Million Day. “She ran quite well considering she is a filly who hasn’t had a chance to develop because of things not going well in Florida this winter. I think she’s just coming around,” Block said of the Giant’s Causeway half-sister to Ioya Bigtime.